Somali gov’t says ban by local officials on UN flights “ill- advised”

May 19,2013 (Xinhua) — Somali government said on Sunday that it was ill advised for the authorities in the northern breakaway region of Somaliland to issue ban on UN flights into the region and ground world body’s aircraft at the local airports.

Officials in Somaliland banned UN aircraft from flying and those already at the airports in the regional capital of Hargeisa and the one in the port city of Berbera from leaving.

This was in retaliation a Memorandum of Understanding between Somali government and UN’s Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority (CACAS) based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi gradually giving control of the country’s airspace to the central government in Mogadishu.

“The action taken to ground UN aircraft and ban UN flights from Berbera and Hargeisa is ill-advised,” said Abdulahi Hersi, Somalia’s Minister of information.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was mandated by the UN Security Council to provide air navigation services to international air transport over the country’s airspace nearly four years after the collapse of central government in Somalia in 1990.

An Ad hoc agency, the CACAS, was formed by the ICAO to manage the international air-transport over Somalia’s airspace until an internationally recognized government was in place in the horn of Africa country reeling from years of conflict.

Somali government apologized to the UN for the action taken by the officials in self-declared republic of Somaliland, calling it a “breach of international aviation laws” and of the “privileges and immunities of the United Nations and its personnel” who it said was in the country to assist the Somali people.

Somali government also noted and expressed appreciation to the importance of the humanitarian and technical assistance provided to it by the UN and its agencies.

The government said regaining control of Somalia’s airspace was not a political issue and that it was open for dialogue over “any contentious points regarding the Somali airspace management.” The government stressed that any discussion on the matter can only take place within “the framework of our national sovereignty.”

Somaliland proclaimed its independence in 1991 from the rest of Somalia but the region was not recognized by the international community which backs the central government in Mogadishu.

 

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